A Review of Psychiatric Emergencies

Course #36774 - $60 -


This course introduces professionals who may or may not currently work in emergency departments to the issue of psychiatric emergencies. Psychiatric illnesses that may require emergency treatment are divided between those involving adults and children. Within each of these categories, individual illnesses are presented with a short description of the presenting symptoms and possible areas of differential diagnosis before treatment is started. However, this course does not attempt to teach psychiatric diagnosis, as such is beyond the limits of this course. Common treatment approaches are provided for each psychiatric illness described. In addition to the illnesses and possible treatments, professionals are introduced to potential dangers and ways to minimize the possibility of injury to either medical personnel or the patient.

Education Category: Psychiatric / Mental Health
Release Date: 03/01/2023
Expiration Date: 02/28/2026

Table of Contents


This course is designed for nurses and allied health professionals, especially those working in emergency care settings.

Accreditations & Approvals

In support of improving patient care, TRC Healthcare/NetCE is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team. NetCE is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). NetCE complies with the ANSI/IACET Standard, which is recognized internationally as a standard of excellence in instructional practices. As a result of this accreditation, NetCE is authorized to issue the IACET CEU.

Designations of Credit

NetCE designates this continuing education activity for 10 ANCC contact hour(s). NetCE designates this continuing education activity for 1 pharmacotherapeutic/pharmacology contact hour(s). NetCE designates this continuing education activity for 12 hours for Alabama nurses. NetCE is authorized by IACET to offer 1 CEU(s) for this program. AACN Synergy CERP Category A.

Individual State Nursing Approvals

In addition to states that accept ANCC, NetCE is approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by: Alabama, Provider #ABNP0353, (valid through July 29, 2025); Arkansas, Provider #50-2405; California, BRN Provider #CEP9784; California, LVN Provider #V10662; California, PT Provider #V10842; District of Columbia, Provider #50-2405; Florida, Provider #50-2405; Georgia, Provider #50-2405; Kentucky, Provider #7-0054 through 12/31/2025; South Carolina, Provider #50-2405; West Virginia RN and APRN, Provider #50-2405.

Course Objective

The purpose of this course is to help medical personnel recognize psychiatric emergencies, identify common psychiatric illnesses that may share symptoms with physical illness, and improve the management of psychiatric emergencies.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Outline the history and appropriate use of the emergency department (ED).
  2. Cite statistics regarding ED utilization.
  3. Describe the medical evaluation of psychiatric patients in the emergency setting.
  4. Discuss components of a psychiatric assessment in the ED.
  5. Review common medical conditions that may be linked to psychiatric issues.
  6. Define imminent danger.
  7. Identify common psychiatric conditions that may precipitate emergencies in adults.
  8. Recognize psychiatric illnesses in children and adolescents that may necessitate emergency intervention.
  9. Describe the appropriate management of psychiatric emergencies, including the necessity for providing information in the patient's native language.
  10. Outline appropriate discharge planning for patients who have been treated for psychiatric emergencies.
  11. List interventions that should be utilized in the case of a psychiatric emergency in an office setting.
  12. Discuss legal issues associated with psychiatric emergencies.


James Trent, PhD, earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Mississippi in 1977. He has worked in rural community mental health, where psychiatric emergencies were managed without the benefit of adjacent inpatient psychiatric facilities. He has managed an independent practice of psychology since 1979, a practice that has included managing patients presenting with psychiatric emergencies. Dr. Trent taught at Middle Tennessee State University and Capella University, lecturing graduate students on psychopathology and psychotherapy. He supervised practicum students and interns at the VAMC Nashville, Tennessee, and at the Vanderbilt University Psychological and Counseling Center. In 2017, Dr. Trent retired from the Charleston, South Carolina, VAMC Home Based Primary Care program, where he provided psychological services to elderly veterans with chronic, comorbid illnesses that precluded their ability to receive care at the hospital and managed psychiatric emergencies among home-based veterans. Dr. Trent also acts as the Psychology Division Planner at NetCE.

Faculty Disclosure

Contributing faculty, James Trent, PhD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

Division Planner

Margo A. Halm, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, FAAN

Division Planner Disclosure

The division planner has disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

Director of Development and Academic Affairs

Sarah Campbell

Director Disclosure Statement

The Director of Development and Academic Affairs has disclosed no relevant financial relationship with any product manufacturer or service provider mentioned.

About the Sponsor

The purpose of NetCE is to provide challenging curricula to assist healthcare professionals to raise their levels of expertise while fulfilling their continuing education requirements, thereby improving the quality of healthcare.

Our contributing faculty members have taken care to ensure that the information and recommendations are accurate and compatible with the standards generally accepted at the time of publication. The publisher disclaims any liability, loss or damage incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents. Participants are cautioned about the potential risk of using limited knowledge when integrating new techniques into practice.

Disclosure Statement

It is the policy of NetCE not to accept commercial support. Furthermore, commercial interests are prohibited from distributing or providing access to this activity to learners.

Technical Requirements

Supported browsers for Windows include Microsoft Internet Explorer 9.0 and up, Mozilla Firefox 3.0 and up, Opera 9.0 and up, and Google Chrome. Supported browsers for Macintosh include Safari, Mozilla Firefox 3.0 and up, Opera 9.0 and up, and Google Chrome. Other operating systems and browsers that include complete implementations of ECMAScript edition 3 and CSS 2.0 may work, but are not supported. Supported browsers must utilize the TLS encryption protocol v1.1 or v1.2 in order to connect to pages that require a secured HTTPS connection. TLS v1.0 is not supported.

Implicit Bias in Health Care

The role of implicit biases on healthcare outcomes has become a concern, as there is some evidence that implicit biases contribute to health disparities, professionals' attitudes toward and interactions with patients, quality of care, diagnoses, and treatment decisions. This may produce differences in help-seeking, diagnoses, and ultimately treatments and interventions. Implicit biases may also unwittingly produce professional behaviors, attitudes, and interactions that reduce patients' trust and comfort with their provider, leading to earlier termination of visits and/or reduced adherence and follow-up. Disadvantaged groups are marginalized in the healthcare system and vulnerable on multiple levels; health professionals' implicit biases can further exacerbate these existing disadvantages.

Interventions or strategies designed to reduce implicit bias may be categorized as change-based or control-based. Change-based interventions focus on reducing or changing cognitive associations underlying implicit biases. These interventions might include challenging stereotypes. Conversely, control-based interventions involve reducing the effects of the implicit bias on the individual's behaviors. These strategies include increasing awareness of biased thoughts and responses. The two types of interventions are not mutually exclusive and may be used synergistically.